Another indie cable channel bites the dust as Poker Central folds

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Pay-TV operators are increasingly looking to trim channels, so smaller linear cable channels like Poker Central are facing extinction.

Add Poker Central to the list of privately funded linear cable channels folding in 2016.

Las Vegas entrepreneur and high-stakes poker champ Cary Katz has reportedly made the decision to scuttle the linear Poker Channel, which was carried by a number of smaller cable systems, including Buckeye Broadband and Sony PlayStation Vue, as well as numerous NCTC co-op member operators. 

Poker Central launched its linear channel only 14 months ago, running a 24/7 milieu of previously recorded poker tournament coverage, as well as original reality lifestyle shows the around card games and monetary risk-taking. 

RELATED: Pivot shuts down after just 3 years despite ample backing and carriage

The channel, which had gone over-the-top with apps on Apple TV and Roku, will now exist as an ad-supported VOD platform, featuring shows like "Inside Poker With Matt Savage."

"It's a digital pivot because we saw our millennial audience wanted more content. But they wanted new, original content," Poker Central President Joe Kakaty told Multichannel News.

Poker Central is only the latest—and probably among the first—linear cable channels to fall by the wayside in what looks like an emerging trend. With pay-TV operators looking to streamline programming bundles to match consumer taste, programming networks lacking the leverage of a conglomerate face extinction. 

"As the media landscape changes, we have been evaluating how we fulfill our mission to entertain and inspire social action around the world's most pressing issues,” said Participant Media CEO David Linde in a statement, shortly after the company shuttered linear channel Pivot in August. “That process has led us to the decision to move away from owning and operating a cable network.”

Added NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, speaking to investors over the summer: "You'll see us and others trimming channels. There are just too many networks.”

As for Poker Central, Multichannel News reports that the network hired a high-profile roster of executive talent that has now been cut loose. This includes longtime Turner distribution executive Sid Eshleman and former Discovery operatives Robert Gold and Dan Russell. 

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